Sing for America's production of 'Once on This Island' is not so much a play as it is a pure and simple celebration of love and of loss and of all the good and bad that comprise what we may call a good life well spent.

Sing for America, Lehigh Valley's most exuberant theatrical company, delivers an irresistibly bouncy production of this seldom seen musical at Zoellner Arts Center through July 16, 2017.

'Once on This Island', by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, enjoyed a year long Broadway run in the early 1990s. The show is based upon a novel by Rosa Guy, 'My Love, My Love; or The Peasant Girl.'

The play tells in fervent song and relentless dance the story of a young woman of the Islands

'Once on This Island' is rich in Caribbean mythology and is said to borrow faintly from Romeo and Juliet and The Little Mermaid.

And the show almost belongs to that Juliet and Mermaid, for you will be hard pressed to find a more gifted performer than Teara Gilbert in the leading role of Ti Moune.

She sings hauntingly, confidently, powerfully well, and her lithe body spins and flies as if on a slender sting manipulated by a heavenly puppeteer from the catwalk above.

Ms Gilbert is accompanied by a swelling cast and crew that includes more than a few other impressive members sharing her last name. It's unquestionably a family affair, and a highly hospitable one featuring, in addition to at least eight Gilberts, Ronald Christian, Victor Abreu, Deborah D'Haiti, Todd Carpien, Ian Holmes, and what appear to be about 200 other pairs of waving and weaving arms and legs.

Perhaps what most distinguishes this play is its fearless confrontation with issues of race and discrimination, and its clear intention to wrap serious and often disturbing dramaturgy into a sweet confection of love and respect.

Sing for America, in my first exposure to their work, impressed me further with their utter lack of inhibition. Heavily trained singers and dancers with soaring voices and bat-like arms and legs fluttered gaily alongside a goodly number of folks who may have never before mounted a stage.

And, you know what? That was okay! It worked! The show didn't self-immolate! The integrity of the art form and the joy and beauty of theater were honored and well served!

The set was simple and all but breathtaking, with writhing bodies perched at several precarious levels above the stage, no two playing areas at the same height.

If you've never quite known what the word "akimbo" means, you'll want to see this show.... arms, legs, head, torso, hands, and feet, all akimbo all of the time.

Leave your most severe critical faculties in the glove box of your car. Give this gifted and daring troupe a chance.

It's a family affair, from pre-show spiel to final bow. And they genuinely make you feel part of that family.

You almost feel that at any moment you will be beckoned to stand at your seat, loosen your tie, and climb down onto the stage and join them in their celebration.

Where: Zoellner Arts Center 420 East Packer Avenue, Bethlehem, PA

Price: $18/$15/$9

When: July 13, 7:30; July 14, 7:30; July 15 2pm and 7:30. July 16, 2pm.

Tickets: www.zoellnerartscenter.org